Spoilers: Entire series, but the only Season Five spoilers are for Cordelia's storyline.
Notes: Many thanks to catecumen and calliopes_pen for going over this essay and telling me to add to it. And then reading it again and telling me to add even more.
Extra Note: I'm not sure why the links stopped working, but I've gone through and fixed them. They should hopefully be working fine now.
During the first nine episodes of Angel, the viewers were given a glimpse at what -- at first glance -- appeared to be Xander/Cordelia, Version 2.0. Cordelia hadn’t changed much in the two months since Sunnydale, though maybe a little more humble, and Doyle seemed quite a bit like Xander with his tacky clothes and slightly comic disposition. It quickly became apparent, however, that there was much more to the Cordelia Chase of Angel than there was to the one of Buffy… and that Allen Francis Doyle was much more than another Xander Harris.
When Allen Francis Doyle first appeared in Angel’s apartment during the first episode of Angel, no one knew what to think of the half-demon Irishman. He was the only main character of the new show that hadn’t previously been on Buffy, and -- unlike the other characters -- his past was an open slate. Pretty much all that was known about him at first was that he was undoubtedly Irish and that he had a fondness for liquor and gambling… not to mention that he received mind-numbing visions from the Powers That Be for some reason that had to do with his past.
As the episodes went by, he became less of an enigma and more of a beloved character. Little glimpses of his past were given out, revealing details that no one could have expected, and the audience learned about his past at the same time that Angel and Cordelia did.
Doyle’s father was a Brachen demon, but Doyle didn’t know that until his twenty-first birthday. Needless to say, both he and his wife freaked out when they discovered that aspect of his past. After some time had passed, she learned to accept the fact; however, he never did. They separated not long afterward, setting Doyle on the path that would eventually lead him to his new life in Los Angeles.
If you want a much more detailed look at Cordelia’s pre-Angel days, then you should go read waterlanding’s Xander/Cordelia essay. She does a terrific job of explaining what happened during those three years, and quite a bit of what makes Cordelia the person she is during Angel is what happened in Sunnydale -- including her relationship with Xander Harris.
Anyway, getting back to the topic on hand…
During the first three seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Cordelia Chase went from being the spoiled rich girl who hated the Scoobies to being the spoiled rich girl who sort-of liked the Scoobies because she was dating one of them to being the spoiled rich girl who hated the Scoobies but still helped them save the world for some odd reason.
And then she had to grow up.
A few months before graduation, her parents lost all of their money because of tax fraud. Until then, she had planned on leaving Sunnydale and attending college as far away from the Hellmouth and her past life as possible. Almost instantly, however, her dreams were shattered. Instead of going off to college after the fiasco that was Sunnydale High’s 1999 graduation, she made her way to Los Angeles to bring to life her dreams of stardom.
When she arrived in Los Angeles, it was nothing like expected. She found herself living in a run-down apartment without even enough money to buy food, and she was literally on her last leg when she ran into an old face from Sunnydale… Angel, the vampire with a soul. After Angel saved her life, Cordelia quickly joined with him and Doyle -- thus becoming the final member of the original Angel Investigations team.
Over the course of Angel’s first nine episodes, Cordelia took the first step on the road that would lead her away from her childhood and into the adult world. She moved into the apartment that she would call home for the next three years, discovered friends who would be willing to die for her… and found herself facing an adult relationship, one that went beyond the pure passion (and groping in the high school’s broom closet) that’s often found in a first love.
“You think she’s a hottie.”
“Yeah, she’s a stiffener alright, I can’t lie about that.”
From the very beginning, it wasn’t a secret that Doyle was attracted to Cordelia… even though she was barely more than jailbait. Whenever they were together, he always found the time to throw an innuendo or two her way, but for the most part she ignored him. They slowly became friends as the time went by, and it soon became obvious that they really did care for each other -- even if it wasn’t in a romantic way.
“Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?”
As the episodes went by, it quickly became apparent that Doyle had fallen for Cordelia. The above exchange took place during the fifth episode, Rm w/a Vu, when Doyle was helping her find a new apartment. The place she had been living for the past several months had finally pushed her beyond the breaking point, and she was willing to try anything to find somewhere else to live… even letting Doyle find her an apartment through “some guy” he knew.
The apartment that he found her was gorgeous, and she starts gushing about it the moment she walks in the door. When Doyle agrees with her, however, his eyes aren’t on the apartment… they’re focused entirely on her. A few minutes later, after she decides to take the apartment, she gives Doyle a huge hug and announces “I love your guy!” When that happens, the completely head-over-heels expression on his face is priceless -- but, as usual, Cordelia seems oblivious.
“Maybe Doyle does have - hidden depths.”
In the seventh episode, The Bachelor Party, the viewers received the first glimpse that it might be more than just a one-sided infatuation. When Doyle saved Cordelia, putting his own life at risk, she finally seemed to notice him as more than just a friend. She even prepared to ask him out for coffee… but then his soon-to-be ex-wife showed up, which is another essay in itself.
“You'll get through this, Doyle. Nice guys don't always finish last.”
“You think I'm a nice guy?”
“I think it, I say it. That's my way.”
Later on in the same episode, after Harry -- Doyle’s ex -- has left just as abruptly as she came, he’s moping on the sofa. Cordelia goes in, and the following exchange takes place while she’s trying to cheer him up. After she finishes speaking though, she flashes him a tiny smile that shows just how serious she’s being. He’s someone that she cares about, and she wants to make sure he realizes that.
“I guess we'll never know if this is a face you could learn to love.”
In episode nine, Hero, everything that had been established on Angel suddenly disappears in a heartbeat. When a group of Nazi-like demons make their way to Los Angeles, bent on destroying humanity with a device known as the Beacon, the way only way to stop them is for either Angel or Doyle to make the ultimate sacrifice. Since it couldn’t be Angel, for obvious reason, Doyle is the one who makes the leap -- but only after he kisses Cordelia, unknowingly transferring his visions to her, and lets her know that there might have been the possibility of so much more between them. When he turns to jump, there is an absolutely heartbroken expression on her face.
Hero ends with Angel and Cordelia sitting in their office, watching a video of Doyle that was made at the beginning of the episode. Over the rest of the first season, he’s rarely even mentioned; however, that’s because it’s obvious that the memory of his death still brings quite a bit of pain to those who knew him. During the second season, he’s only mentioned a few times in passing -- usually more in reference to the visions than anything else. Then came Birthday…
“You mean - Doyle gave me the visions because - he loved me?”
By the third season, the visions that Doyle passed on to Cordelia were killing her. She was given the choice to give them up and live a normal life or to become part-demon herself in order to keep them. While making her decision, she was shown a few glimpses of her past… including the moment when she received the visions. She then learns that she was never supposed to have the visions, and the only reason that she got them was because no one realized how powerful Doyle’s feelings for her were.
“The first soldier down.”
During the fourth season, everyone’s lives went to hell and back again, so let’s skip ahead to the fifth season -- or, more precisely, Cordelia’s last episode: You’re Welcome. Midway through the episode, Angel walks in and finds her watching the video of Doyle. For the first, and last, time since Hero, the original three members of Angel Investigations are together once again -- and it’s obvious from the wistful expression on Cordelia’s face that she at least partially wishes that she could turn back time and go back to those simpler days.
One of the driving points of Doyle/Cordelia fanfiction, most of which is AU for obvious reasons, is the fact that there are so many questions about “what might have happened?” If the character of Doyle hadn’t been killed, what might have happened between the two of them?
Would they have remained nothing more than friends? Would they have had an on-again/off-again relationship for the next three seasons? Would they have become lovers? Would it have been revealed that they were twins who had been separated at birth in order to protect them from their father… Wait. Wrong fandom. Though, with Joss Whedon, anything’s a possibility.
Another aspect of the Doyle/Cordelia relationship that should be considered is that fact that, even though both are deceased in canon, death has never really been that important in Jossverse. What if Doyle was brought back to life sometime after Hero? What if there were together in some sort of afterlife, waiting for their friends to join them? What if they’re ghosts, watching over the still-living heroes of the world?
There are tons of possibilities out there that are just waiting to be explored.
When I first started watching Angel, the series was already into its third season. Because of that, all that I knew about the early episodes was what I could find from reading online summaries and scripts. Just by reading those, however, I fell in love with Doyle/Cordelia -- even before I knew what Doyle looked like. One of my online friends sent me some grainy copies of the episodes on VHS, but it wasn’t until the first season was released on DVD that I finally got to see them in their full glory… and once I did, there was no turning back.
Doyle/Cordelia is an adult relationship, and it's not all fairytales and roses like with a first love. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn't... but both people involved learn and grow from the experience. It's a second love, or even a third love, where both parties know what to expect but are still swept away in its course.
Plus, it's cute and fluffy a lot of the time. ;-)
There’s so much more to say about the Doyle/Cordelia pairing, but I’m really not sure how to say any of it. To be honest, I’ve spent the last week completely panicking over writing this -- especially after going back and rereading some of earlier essays. I only hope that this at least gives you a glimpse of what we see in this ‘ship… and that it possibly converts a few more people to the fold.
We’ll Never Know: the Doyle/Cordelia fanlisting
Deoir Fola: A Drop of Blood: Doyle-centric, features several Doyle/Cordelia stories
I’ve tried to include a few examples of the major types of Doyle/Cordelia stories. If you’d like more recs, just let me know. I’ll be glad to share some more of my favorites.
Close to Home… So Far Away (PG, Gabrielle Lawson)
No one in L.A. can see him, hear him, or touch him... but is Doyle a ghost, or something entirely different? [AU]
Fixer-Upper: (PG, Mireille)
Cordelia's learned her lesson about fixer-uppers. [canon]
Impact: (PG-13, silver)
With the birth of Darla's baby fast approaching, Cordelia interferes with an attempt on Angel's life, but the consequences of her actions send her back to 1999... mere days before Doyle is to die on the Quintessa. [time-travel]
It’s a Pretty Good Life: (PG, Hathaway)
Before the final battle, they have twenty-four hours to enjoy life to the fullest. [AU]
Reception: (G, nwhepcat)
When it’s all said and done, he’s there waiting for her. [afterlife]
Substitute Teacher: (PG-13, by Roseveare)
During the third season of Buffy, the Scooby Gang suspects a new teacher at Sunnydale High may be a demon. [AU]
Angel: Changes in Seasons: Even though I’m the producer of this series, I still felt that it should be mentioned here. There are some extremely talented authors (such as bethos, mouse42, wesleysgirl, and wolfing) working on it, and it’s definitely something that would be of interest to Doyle/Cordelia fans. The basic premise of the series is that after the Season Four finale, Cordelia was given the chance to change one event in her recent past -- and she chooses to save Doyle’s life.
Angel: the Cyber Series: This is one of the oldest Angel virtual series that I know of, and -- though it hasn’t been updated in years -- the few episodes that are up are well worth the read. It’s premise is “Doyle didn’t die,” but it goes off in a fairly different direction than the aforementioned series. It has both slash and gen versions of every episode, and the Gen Season contains quite a bit of Doyle/Cordelia.
Unfortunately, most of the Doyle/Cordelia websites have died over the years. There are only a few left now, and the majority of them are technically focused on just one character rather than both of them as a ‘ship even though they host D/C fanfiction.
A Demon’s Heart
Doyle/Cordelia Fanfiction: A-L
Doyle/Cordelia Fanfiction: M-Z
More Than Meets the Eye